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Action, Knowledge, and Will$
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John Hyman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198735779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735779.001.0001

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Desire and Intention

Desire and Intention

(p.103) 5 Desire and Intention
Action, Knowledge, and Will

John Hyman

Oxford University Press

Recent work on dispositions offers a new solution to the dispute about whether explanations of intentional action are causal, and shows that it seemed intractable because of a commitment to Humean orthodoxies about causation on both sides. The most serious problem faced by the claim that desires are causal factors arises from the existence of ‘deviant’ causal chains between desires and acts. But the problem arises simply because a desire is a disposition, and every disposition can be connected to the kind of act or event that normally manifests it by a ‘deviant’ causal chain. A desire is a causal factor, like any disposition, but it is a disposition of a special kind, because it is manifested in goal-directed behaviour. Hence, we are not forced to choose between the view that explanations of intentional action refer to efficient causes and the view that they refer to final causes, since they do both.

Keywords:   desire, intention, disposition, causation, deviant causal chain

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